TV “sitcoms” are fairly generic. The basic theme of almost every sitcom is family life: coping with the stress of balancing career with family and personal life. But one of the most popular and successful American sitcom in history deliberately had “nothing to say”, and very little to do. “Seinfeld,” however, went in an entirely different direction.
Seinfeld” was never about “family values”, or even “coping”; it was one dilemma after another, and, against all odds, surviving, if barely. There was no moral that made the characters become “a better person”. If they succeeded, it was merely by chance, and no lessons were learned. on became a “better person” for it. It was all about survival: a day to day battle with themselves. Even Steinfleld, the often befuddled hero, seemed to be his own best enemy.
Of the main characters in “Seinfeld”, Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer, only Jerry seemed to have had at least a steady job; as, of all things, a nightclub stand-up comedian. The rest seem to have been too self-absorbed to keep a steady job.
Not your typical sitcom by any means. And it worked. Viewers enjoyed their dysfunctional efforts without guilt, and with a little bit of sympathy, because it seemed to mirror our own less than perfect lives.
Before “Seinfeld”, sitcoms were cookie cutter simple: one major plot, maybe a minor plot, all solved with a “lessons learned” lecture at the end of 30 minutes. “Seinfeld” had no “lessons learned”; it was all about coping and surviving, and then repeating the same mistakes again.
The genius of “Seinfeld” was that we saw so much of ourselves in Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer, at the same time as we were being thankful we weren’t at all like them.